Larry Horn, Executive Director, Amplify Louisville

Amplify Louisville is a founder-focused organization that helps startups, entrepreneurs and innovators build tech-enabled, scalable businesses. They help founders working from napkin sketches to Series A not only explore ideas but also build solutions, launch products and grow businesses. Louisville Future spoke to Larry Horn, who is the executive director of Amplify, about what the organization does.

Tell us about Amplify.

Horn: Amplify Louisville is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that is funded by KY Innovation. The organization was started in 2020, and its mission is to ensure that Louisville is the region’s number one inclusive, vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

These startup businesses and entrepreneurship [nonprofits] bring long-term value to the community and the economy, as well as to the beneficiaries of the businesses/entrepreneurs.

What kind of events are available through Amplify?

Horn: Amplify hosts programs and events based on key topics in the community on an ongoing basis. We have a monthly Startup Breakfast, which is an informal meetup of startup entrepreneurs and leaders. The goal is to network and [allow participants to] experience some peer-to-peer mentoring. Right now, these meetups are online. In addition, as an aggregator and creator of resources for tech-enabled startups, we not only host our own events but also sponsor and promote other community events [for which] we offer programming.

Our structured programming meets the needs of founders and entrepreneurs for specific types of tech startups according to their stage on the Village Capital’s Viral Pathway. We have webinars about topics, such as how to pitch your company in a minute and also support Techstars Startup Week Louisville.

What is the Louisville Resource Track?

Horn: The Louisville Resource Track is a tool we created that connects startups to some of the resources here in our community. Founders can match the stage of their businesses to the category of interest to find resources to help them grow. Maybe you have a business idea but haven’t developed a plan. We’ll show you who can help in your region. You may have validated your idea and be ready to develop your product. We can connect you to resources that will help you test your concept, market your product or service and distribute it to your customers.

If you have an established business and you’re looking to grow your workforce or reach more markets, then we can help. Even if you have a proven value proposition and it’s working, we have the resources to help you fine-tune your business operations, grow your network or even look for additional capital.

You’ve recently made two new hires. What are the plans going forward?

Horn: Amplify brought on Keionna Baker as director of community engagement and Jenn Callahan as director of marketing and business development.

Keionna, founder of Elephant in the Room—a series of workshops that address the issues of racism, sexism, sexual orientation, classism, disabilities and more in the workplace—was formerly community manager at Story Louisville. I was looking for a candidate experienced in event production, but also someone who could drive thought leadership around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and entrepreneurship.

We’ve been focused really heavily on DE&I programming and talks around those initiatives, but we needed someone to lead that conversation and lead that impact. Keionna, with her background in programs and events, is just a great fit for this role.

Jenn had already been consulting with Amplify through her own marketing solutions firm, liveFire, before she joined the organization full-time. Amplify’s main way of communicating is through marketing efforts, such as its newsletter, social media, website and job board.

We are focused on doing more in the marketing space and how to get more stories out regionally and nationally. The other piece of Jenn’s role that made her a good fit to bring on full-time is that she has this tremendous background in building products and services.

One of the things that Amplify has on its radar is figuring out how to become more sustainable and not just rely on state funding for the organization.